By Tamara Kleinberg
You sit at your kitchen table or home office and sip your coffee. On your mind is the question, “What’s my big idea?” What’s the one thing that is going to turn what I love to do into what I make money doing?
Business ideas can start anywhere, but the best ones often come from what you are most passionate about. You can be passionate about doing something like baking. Perhaps you are passionate about fixing a problem that annoys you. You could even be passionate about making something better than it is today.
Great ideas come from everywhere and they are all around you. Here are two daily tools that will help you uncover all those idea gems hidden inside your daily life, knowledge, and expertise. With these daily tools, you don’t have to travel far to find your passions and profits!
Follow Your Frustrations
Have you ever felt so frustrated by something you felt compelled to fix it?
When Elizabeth and Joan from Clouds and Stars were new moms, they were frustrated because, as any new mother can tell you, changing a crib sheet is a Herculean task. You have to take out the blankets, teddy bears, and other paraphernalia. Then you have to remove the crib bumper. Next, you have to contort your body as you lean into the crib, balance on the dresser, and try to lift the tight-fitting mattress and pull off the sheet. Babies make messes daily, so sheet changing is part of the routine. That frustration led to an idea, and the QuickZip sheet was born. QuickZip is exactly what it sounds like. You literally zip off the top part of the sheet. No more body contortions.
It’s easy to get frustrated, but opportunity lurks behind frustration. Every time you get that “grrrrr” feeling, whip out a piece of paper and spend a moment following your frustration. The key here is to not let it pass you by. Always stop and ask yourself the key questions.
1. What is it that I am so frustrated by?
2. What would I do to change/fix it?
As you can probably tell, the profitable idea is in the second question! Here are some links to some great out-of-their-home products that all started by asking those two questions.
Q: How do I help Parkinson’s patients drink coffee without spilling?
A: The Hot Straw – A coffee lover’s new best friend
Q: How do I make creativity accessible to everyone, especially those that feel like they’ve lost it?
A: Creativi-tees – Creative t-shirts that help you unleash your creativity by wearing them
Obsession counts more than anything! Emma is the owner of The Shoppe, a cupcake and cereal café in Denver. Cupcakes are all the rage, but her place isn’t like all the others. I asked her why she would open a cupcake shop at the peak of the trend. I think there are cupcakes shops on every corner. She replied that she hadn’t opened a cupcake shop. She opened a place where she could engage in her obsession for baking and create a place where everyone can be a kid. Her shop has colorful art on the walls, board games for families to share, hip-hop music in the background, and anime on the massive wall-mounted TV. Her cupcakes have names like “Death by Chocolate” and “Pineapple Express.” Her “Snickerdoodle” cupcake literally tastes like the cookie it’s named for. I swear, the “Banana Split” is better than the real thing. Now that your mouth is watering and you are scouring the pantry for chocolate, let’s talk about Emma. Emma isn’t your traditional cupcake shop owner. She never went to baking school. She didn’t get an MBA or take courses in finance. Simply put, Emma has an obsession and a deep love for creating her dream.
Skills are easy to come by. Obsession is hard. As they say, do what you love and love what you do. Her place is funky, fun, and totally unique. It wasn’t experience that drove her to open one of the most successful shops in Denver. It was her obsession. If you obsess, you can figure out the skills and experience to get it done.
Finding your obsession can come from a lot of places. It can come from looking at your strengths, your experiences, and your loves. Take some time to crystallize your passions, because somewhere in there is an obsession that will turn into your next big idea.
If you are at the stage where you are still searching for your passion, don’t worry. It’s there; you just don’t see it yet. Grab a blank piece of paper and start writing down all the things that make your super happy. Then make a list of all the things you are incredibly good at. Have a few friends over for coffee and ask them. You don’t have to solve this one in a day, so take your time. Eventually what you obsess about will become crystal clear.
Turning Passions into Profits starts with an Ah-ha moment that is sure to change your life. If you keep track of all your frustrations and passions, the Ah-ha moment will come quickly. The great news is that all ideas are possible to create from the kitchen table, so don’t be afraid to dream crazy big.
(Follow Your Frustrations and Be Obsessive are exerpts from Tamara’s book: Think Sideways: a game-changing playbook for disruptive thinking. Worksheets for each segment are included in the playbook)
Tamara Kleinberg is a serial entrepreneur, idea tinkerer, lover of disruption, and the Chief Imaginator at imaginibbles.com, spreading innovation like wildfire. She is the host of the wildly successful new web-show imagi-NATION: disruptive innovator’s road tour.
For more ideas, how-tos, and inspiration, check out her brand new book: Think Sideways: a game-changing playbook for disruptive thinking.